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S&P record close amid vaccine optimism

Sinead Carew
·2-min read

The S&P 500 has notched a record closing high, with upbeat earnings reports helping to drive optimism about the economy along with hopes for successful COVID-19 vaccines, even as investors monitored a surge in virus cases and restrictions around the country.

After a volatile trading week where the market was whipsawed between hopes and fears around the virus, Cisco Systems Inc provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 after its quarterly report showed a work-from-home driven surge in demand.

Walt Disney Co also rose as its rapidly growing streaming video business and a partial recovery at its theme parks tempered its quarterly loss.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday rose 399.64 points, or 1.37 per cent, to 29,479.81, the S&P 500 gained 48.14 points, or 1.36 per cent, to 3,585.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 119.70 points, or 1.02 per cent, to 11,829.29.

Along with the S&P, the small cap Russell 2000 also registered a record closing high, rising 2.1 per cent on the day.

The Russell 1000 value index, which is heavily weighted toward cyclical sectors such as banks and energy, rose 1.97 per cent on Friday while the growth index, with a large tech company weighting, added 0.7 per cent.

The three major US stock indices had fallen on Thursday as more than a dozen US states reported a doubling of new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, with Chicago's mayor issuing a month-long stay-at-home advisory.

But a senior adviser to President-elect Joe Biden said there were no plans for nationwide lockdowns next year and instead talked about restrictions for specific regions when the virus spread was bad there.

Positive data from Pfizer's virus vaccine study on Monday had prompted a rally that pushed the S&P 500 up 2.2 per cent for the week and gave the Dow a 4 per cent weekly gain. The indices also registered their biggest two-week percentage gains since April.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, however, showed a 0.6 per cent decline for the week as investors booked profits in technology stocks, which have benefited from a stay-at-home environment.

Biden solidified his victory over President Donald Trump on Friday after the state of Georgia went his way, leaving incumbent Donald Trump little hope of reversing the outcome through legal challenges and recounts.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 4.76-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.83-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted nine new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 84 new highs and 11 new lows.

On US exchanges 9.86 billion shares changed hands compared with the 10.1 billion average for the last 20 sessions.